No Lettuce, No Problem

If you are craving a side salad for your meal but you don’t have any lettuce, do not fret. Look in your vegetable crisper and make something up from the carrots, peppers, radishes, onions, tomatoes, or whatever you might have. The other night I put together a quick salad that didn’t need a recipe but here is what I did.


Pepper, Radish and Onion Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Serves 1

1 large radish, sliced very thin
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise about 1/4-inch-thick
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced lengthwise about 1/4-inch-thick
1/4 large red onion, sliced very thin
2 Tbsp blue cheese salad dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Place a layer of the onion on a plate, add radish slices, stack peppers over top of the radishes and onion. Top with dressing. Season with pepper and drizzle with oil.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Turkey Kebabs

Ample Bites enjoys grilling (and eating) kebabs of all sorts with shrimp, pork tenderloin and beef filet being favorites. This recipe for Turkey Kebabs may have nudged itself into the top five. The recipe is very simple with the spice mixture and the mustard nicely accenting the lean turkey breast and vegetables.


Turkey Kebabs
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Tasting Table Test Kitchen, June 2013)

Make 10 – 12 Kebabs

2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut into ¾-inch-wide cubes
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tsp Kosher salt, divided
1 ½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried savory
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 large medium red onion, quartered and sliced crosswise into ¾-inch-wide segments
2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded, quartered and sliced crosswise into ¾-inch-wide segments
Non-stick pan spray
2 lemons, halved

In a large non-reactive bowl, add the turkey, garlic, 1 tablespoon of oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, add the dried spices and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine, then turn the mixture out on to a cutting board and chop until the fennel seeds are coarsely chopped. Add the mustard to the bowl with the turkey cubes, toss to combine, add the spices and stir to evenly coat the turkey.

Thread turkey, onion and pepper onto skewers.

Heat grill to medium-high. Heat a grill pan for 2 minutes. Spray the grill pan. Cook the skewers on all sides until the turkey is browned and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the skewers to a platter.

Place the lemon halves cut side down on the grill pan and cook until marked and juicy, about 2 minutes. Serve the kebabs with the grilled lemon halves alongside.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Arugula

Ample Bites only cooks red meat on occasion and I have found that paying a slight premium for prime beef makes a huge difference in flavor. Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Arugula uses a sweet and spicy wet rub to impart an even greater depth of flavor to the steaks. If you plan to use this recipe take care to rub the steaks and refrigerate them overnight.


Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Arugula
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Chicago Tribune and Mario Batali, June 2013)

Serves 4 to 6

2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup porcini mushroom powder
5 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 rib eye steaks, each about 1 1/2-inches thick
3 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
Fine sea salt
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Combine the sugar, kosher salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, mushroom powder, garlic, and ¼ cup of olive oil in a small bowl; stir well to create a past with the consistency of wet sand.

Rub the paste all over the steak, coating it evenly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

About 1 hour before grilling remove the steak and brush off the excess rub with a paper towel. Place on a plate and let the meat come to room temperature.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Put the steak on the grill and cover it. Cook, turning the steak every 2 – 3 minutes to generate char marks, about 10 – 12 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for between 10 and 15 minutes.

Dress the arugula with 1 tablespoon of very good olive oil; season with sea salt to taste.

Slice the steak into the grain into ½-inch thick pieces. Arrange on serving plate; drizzle with very good olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Top with arugula and serve immediately.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Cherry Barbecued Chicken Thighs

Door County cherries are the base ingredient for a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce that is perfect on grilled chicken.


Cherry Barbecued Chicken Thighs
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp ground mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until opaque; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients.

Cook uncovered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until cherries are tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool and strain about 90% of the cherries and onions from the sauce. Reheat the sauce over very low heat.

Heat grill to medium-high, then set for indirect cooking.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place the thighs on the grill away from the direct heat of a burner. Cook for 12-15 minutes per side. Brush the chicken with sauce during the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking each side.

Remove the chicken from the grill and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional warm cherry barbecue sauce.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Bibimbop (Updated)

Ample Bites has updated a previous Bibimbop post with and improved recipe. The improved recipe includes more sauce, adds beef strips and allows the chef and guests to flavor their own dishes to taste with Sriracha.

Among the key tips for making Bibimbop are: 1) chop and prep all ingredients ahead of time; 2) use a separate skillet to brown the rice; 3) use an oven or warming drawer to keep the cooked items warm until serving time; 4) and, finally, make sure to reserve some soy sauce/marinade mixture for cooking the vegetables, tofu and beef strips.



Serves 4

8 oz extra-firm tofu, drained
8 oz sirloin strips, ¾-inch wide, pound flat
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tsp sugar, divided
4 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup julienne-cut carrot
4 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp, plus 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
3 cups hot cooked short-grain rice
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 (10-oz) package sliced shitake mushroom caps
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 (12-oz) package fresh baby spinach
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs
¼ tsp Kosher salt

Cut tofu into ¾” thick slices. Place tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally.

Combine 1/2 cup water, vinegar, 2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, and crushed red pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add carrot, and remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Drain.

Remove tofu from paper towels; cut into ¾” cubes. Place tofu in a medium bowl. Combine remaining 2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon ginger, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoon oil, stirring with a whisk. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture to tofu; toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat for 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoon sesame oil; swirl to coat. Add rice to pan in a single layer; cook 1 minute (do not stir). Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat. Add 3 teaspoons soy sauce mixture and bean sprouts to pan; sauté 1 minute. Remove sprouts from pan; keep warm. Add 2 teaspoon to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 3 teaspoons soy sauce mixture; sauté 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan; keep warm. Add 4 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add tofu to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove tofu from pan; keep warm. Add remaining 2 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add remaining 2 teaspoon garlic and remaining 2 tablespoon soy sauce mixture; sauté 30 seconds. Add spinach to pan; sauté 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove spinach from pan; keep warm. Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter in pan. Crack eggs into pan; cook 4 minutes or until whites are set. Remove from heat.

Place ¾ cup rice in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving evenly with carrots, sprouts, mushrooms, tofu, and spinach. Top each serving with 1 egg and several dashes of Sriracha, to taste. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Garlic Fries

Garlic Fries are an Ample Bites family favorite that we serve with burgers, steak or lamb chops.



Garlic Fries
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Serves 4 – 6

4 large baking potatoes, sliced into 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch shoestrings, patted dry
8 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, toss potato slices with 2 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets, leaving room around the potatoes to allow them to crisp during baking. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the potatoes once halfway through, taking care to brown them but not burn them.

In a large skillet, melt butter and heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. When butter is melted, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until the garlic is aromatic. Add the potatoes, parsley and cheese and toss to coat the fries with the oil and butter and evenly incorporate the cheese and parsley. Re-season with salt before serving.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Vienna’s Naschmarkt

The Vienna Naschmarkt is a combination food market and flea market that extends several blocks along the Danube Canal about a 5 minute stroll from the Karlsplatz U-Bahn stop in the 6th District of Vienna, Austria.


The naschmarkt is a foodie paradise with food stands, restaurants, beer and wine stores, flowers and kitchen wares.


During a Saturday morning trek through the naschmarkt Ample Bites enjoyed the sight and smells of at least a half dozen butcher shops, an equal amount of fish mongers, and countless vegetable, fruit and cheese stands.




The market also featured myriad prepackaged spices, bulk candies, and fresh baked breads. A stand with flavored olive oils caught my eye as did a vendor of freshly made sauerkraut displayed in a large wooden barrel.


A Saturday visit to the market requires some patience because there are huge crowds. People come to the market to shop and socialize. The narrow walkways between stands creates an air of activity and a pedestrian tension that is both exciting and, at times, frustrating. The occasional wheelchair-bound shopper or parents pushing the extra-wide baby buggy can create a “traffic jam” of epic proportions.



If you visit the market to prepare for a picnic in one of Vienna’s many beautiful parks, you will find all kinds of prepared foods suitable for the picnic basket including sandwiches, granola by the slice, and peppers stuffed with cheese to name just a few.


Ample Bites regrets not having cooking facilities available during our visit because the fresh food available at the naschmarkt would have yielded some fine cooking opportunities.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Roasted Cauliflower with Sauce Vierge

Ample Bites enjoys cauliflower in almost any form. Among the cauliflower staple recipes are roasted with some melted seasoned butter, mashed (in place of mashed potatoes), and even raw with a dill-sour cream dip.

Roasted Cauliflower with Sauce Vierge combines the sweet, caramelized cauliflower with a salty, acidic and slightly spicy “green sauce”. Roasting the cauliflower is simple and, despite the length of the ingredient list for the sauce, the Sauce Vierge is just a matter of chopping and mixing by hand. The Sauce Vierge can also be served with poultry and meaty fish. It can also be used as a spread on a hearty sandwich like olive spread is used in a muffaletta sandwich.


Roasted Cauliflower with Sauce Vierge
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Modern Sauces, Martha Holmberg, 2012)

Makes 4 to 6 side dish servings

2 heads cauliflower (about 1 ¼ lbs each), cored and cut into 1 ½-inch florets
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Sauce Vierge (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the cauliflower on one or two large rimmed baking sheets.

Roast until the florets are tender, collapsed, and golden brown on their cut faces and around the edges, at least 20 minutes and possibly longer.

Pile the cauliflower into a warmed serving bowl and drizzle generously with the sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sauce Vierge
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
¼ cup finely chopped buttery green olives
2 Tbsp finely chopped cornichon (small cucumber)
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 Tbsp drained capers, coarsely chopped
2 tsp minced jalapeno
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
6 olive-oil packed anchovy fillets, drained and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, toss together the parsley, basil, olives, cornichons, shallot, capers, chile, lemon zest, anchovies, and garlic. Stir in the olive oil and then stir in the lemon and lime juices.

Add a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, to taste. Let the sauce rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Eggplant (or Veal) Parmesan

Ample Bites loves both eggplant parmesan and veal parmesan. The recipe below is written for eggplant but you can easily adapt it to veal by replacing the eggplant with eight thinly-sliced veal cutlets, pounded flat. Or, crazy as this might sound, do half eggplant and half veal by replacing one of the eggplants with four cutlets. Whichever way you do it … you can’t go wrong.

The keys to this dish are making your own marinara sauce and using fresh mozzarella. Resist the temptation to buy a canned sauce and make your own it is really easy and you can do it while the eggplant is salted.


Eggplant Parmesan
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Serves 4 to 6

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Kosher salt
5 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying
6 large eggs, beaten
Extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

For Marinara Sauce:
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced (about 1/3 cup)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
7 cups whole, peeled canned tomatoes in puree (about two 28 oz. cans), roughly chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs basil
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the marinara sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove and discard the herbs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper. Using an immersion blender break up the tomatoes and blend to a smooth consistency.

Use immediately, or refrigerate, covered for up to three days, or freeze for up to two months.

To make the eggplant parmesan: Arrange the eggplant on baking sheets and sprinkle generously with salt. Set aside to let the juices weep from the eggplant, about 1 hour.

Transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink and rinse well under cold water. Transfer the eggplant to work surface and blot with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme and season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of about ½-inch. Heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 400F.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the breadcrumbs in a rimmed dish large enough to hold two eggplant rounds at a time. Working in batches, fry the eggplant rounds, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

Lightly brush a two 15 x 10 x 2-inch baking dishes with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the baking dishes with marinara sauce and arrange the eggplant rounds, in a single layer, in each dish. Scatter the Parmesan over the eggplant and then place two slices of mozzarella on top of each eggplant round. Pour marinara sauce around the eggplant until the it is roughly even with the top of each slice. Reserve the remaining marinara.

Bake until the cheese is just beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with reheated reserved marinara sauce.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Pan-Seared Salmon with Zucchini Pisto

This salmon dish is served with zucchini pisto, not pesto. Pisto a tomatoey succotash that is a perfect, light side for fish.


Pan-seared salmon is a favorite in the Ample Bites household and we also love vegetables so Pan-seared Salmon with Zucchini Pisto seemed like a natural for us. Served along with some creamy polenta this dish became and instant hit.


Pan-Seared Salmon with Zucchini Pisto
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Tasting Table, 2013)

Serves 4

3 ripe medium-sized tomatoes, cored, quartered and then halved
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 red bell pepper – halved, seeded and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini – trimmed and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 6- to 8- ounce salmon fillets with skin on

To make the zucchini pisto: in a blender add the tomato and puree until smooth. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and the onion. Cook stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and cook until it begins to soften, about 8 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the blended tomatoes and simmer on low heat until the pisto looks thick and has reduced by about half, about 20 minutes. Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs and simmer for 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat and discard the rosemary and thyme. Re-season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Pat the salmon dry. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet set over high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the salmon fillets, skin side down. Cook the salmon about 4 minutes until the skin has browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking the fish, about 4 minutes more.

Transfer the salmon to serving plates and with a generous scoop of pisto alongside.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013